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To whom would you give a mulligan in 2011?

Rory McIlroy
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FARMINGDALE, NY - JUNE 19: Bubba Watson hits his tee shot on the 11th hole during the continuation of the first round of the 109th U.S. Open on the Black Course at Bethpage State Park on June 19, 2009 in Farmingdale, New York. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)  - 

Everyone could use a mulligan now and again, right? A chance to replay one shot, maybe a tournament do-over, perhaps even press the reset button for the year. senior writers Jason Sobel, Randall Mell and Rex Hoggard offer up to whom they would like to extend a mulligan in 2011?


If Rory McIlroy ever needed a mulligan, it was on the 10th tee at this year’s Masters.

Now this question can be interpreted many different ways; we can issue a mulligan for the entire season or one tournament or even an off-course comment. I’m going to use my mully quite literally and let one player replace a single shot with another one.

Nobody needed a do-over more than McIlroy, who held a four-stroke lead to start Sunday and was still one up through nine at Augusta National, then hit a dastardly pull hook that landed in a place near some cabins that most observers never even knew were in play.

You know the rest of the story. The 22-year-old stumbled to triple-bogey on that hole, struggled on the next three and posted a final-round 80 – a full 10 shots behind winner Charl Schwartzel.

Two months later, McIlroy triumphed at the U.S. Open. It can be contended that he may not have found such success without first witnessing failure, but we can still wonder what might have been had he simply knocked one into the fairway on that hole. Perhaps he would have won each of the year’s first two major championships. For all the potential and accomplishments the world No. 2 has, the buzz surrounding him would be so much bigger with a green jacket in his closet.

So, yeah. That’s worth a mulligan.

Patrick Cantlay


Really wanted to give Rory McIlroy a mulligan for his tee shot at the 10th hole in the final round of the Masters last spring, but Jason Sobel beat me to the punch.

Would love to give David Toms a mulligan for missing that 3-footer in the playoff at The Players Championship with his wife and two children watching behind the green, but he came out of that just fine, rebounding to win the Crowne Plaza Invitational the following week.

Tempted to give Bobby Gates a mulligan for missing that 6-foot par putt at the final hole of the season-ending Children’s Miracle Network Classic, a gut-wrenching miss that dropped him to 126th on the money list, but he rebounded to win back his Tour card at Q-School last week.

So my mulligan goes to Patrick Cantlay for his play at the 15th tee of the 33rd hole of the U.S. Amateur final at Erin Hills this summer.

That’s where Cantlay blew a chance to punctuate a brilliant amateur season by winning the crown jewel in the amateur ranks.

At that wicked little par 4, just 252 yards, Cantlay tried to make the smart play after blowing a 3-wood over that green in the morning round and making bogey. In the afternoon, he plucked an 8-iron from his bag at the tee box to lay up. But he made a head-spinning mistake. He pulled his tee shot into a fairway bunker, then blasted his approach over the green and made bogey to lose the hole and eventually the championship to Kelly Kraft.

Cantlay was 1 up stepping to the 15th tee after fighting back from 4 down. A come-from-behind victory would have been a memorable ending to a superb amateur run this year, but momentum swung so heavily after Cantlay's mistake.

With his brilliant play in PGA Tour events in 2011, with his 60 at the Travelers leading to one of four top-25 finishes, Cantlay desperately wanted the U.S. Amateur prize. Maybe Kraft would have won anyway, but a mulligan at the 15th makes Cantlay awful tough to beat there. It gives him a chance to finish off an unforgettable amateur run.

Tiger Woods


By way of excuse or explanation, depending on one’s point of view in the hyper-polarized world of Tiger Woods, if anyone rates a “do-over” for 2011 it is the former world No. 1.

To recap, Woods spent prolonged parts of the year on crutches, in a boot, on the couch and, ultimately, learning the intricacies of a new swing with a ball count and assorted deadlines hanging over his head.

When Woods lashed at his second shot from under the Eisenhower tree (above) on Saturday at Augusta National he was still clinging to thoughts of contending. When he limped off TPC Sawgrass a month later after just nine holes he was facing the very real possibility that he was done for the season.

Woods would later call his decision to play The Players a mistake and when he tied for 37th (WGC-Bridgestone Invitational) and missed the cut (PGA Championship) in his first two starts back off the “DL” it would have been easy to consider 2011 a wash.

A solid finish – third-place at the Australian Open and his first victory in two years at his Chevron World Challenge – salvaged the season, but if anyone rates a mulligan it is Woods. Maybe he attempts a safer shot from under the Eisenhower tree, maybe he doesn’t push his luck at Sawgrass, maybe things work out differently.